UPPITY: THE WILLY T. RIBBS STORY (2020). I know next to nothing about auto racing and even less about the history of the sport. So watching this excellent documentary was a true learning experience for me about Ribbs, who is often referred to as "the Jackie Robinson of auto racing". Told mostly by the entertaining Ribbs himself, the doc traces the driver's journey from taking his family car for a joyride at 12 up to becoming the first Black person to race in the Indy 500 (among many other firsts along the way). Ribbs recounts the many issues he encountered along the way and his telling the story about the movie's title sums up how he dealt with them---head on.
A Northern Californian transplanted into the Deep South, Ribbs didn't do deference in an environment in which he was the only non-white person. He had a little Reggie Jackson and a little Ali in him as well (he would do the Ali Shuffle on his car roof after wins) and no problem speaking up for himself or calling it like it was. So in his recounting, Ribbs never seemed to be surprised every time his engine mysteriously failed. Or he couldn't get a sponsor yet again despite his obvious skill on the course. Or when he got booed for his mere presence. Or when he got death threats. Or any other reason where he was being treated different than his less competent peers. Willy just keep charging forward because of the lessons his hard-ass grandfather tought him. UPPITY is an informative and inspirational doc about one man's perseverance in not being denied his dream. Available on Netflix.
BAD EDUCATION (2019). This HBO retelling about a tony Long Island town's school embezzlement scandal was a fun watch thanks in large part to the fantastic work from Hugh Jackman. He plays Roslyn superintendent Frank Tassone, a slick, charismatic administrator who was able to hide the fact that the town was financing his fancy lifestyle and that of his underling Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) for years because he delivered. The school district was rated among the top in the nation and could point to all of its Ivy League acceptances so nobody was asking any questions. At least until the high school newspaper's own intrepid reporter Rachel Bhargava (Geraldine Viswanathan showing her serious chops) does after she comes across some shady purchases while researching a story. Ray Romano continues to turn in excellent work whenever he shows up, as he does here as a school board member. And Annaleigh Ashford always leaves her mark whatever you see her in. Available on all HBO platforms.
WITNESS (1985). As big of a legend as Harrison Ford is, he only has one Oscar nomination in his storied career. He earned a Best Actor nod in this drama/thriller about a young Amish boy who sees a murder go down then has to be protected by a cop (Ford) in his Amish community. The cop also gets in an eye-fucking contest with the boy's widowed mother to add another layer to the movie. Keep your eyes peeled for a young Viggo in his film debut. Danny Glover is also excellent in a role you're not used to seeing him in. WITNESS had seven other nominations including Best Picture and won for editing and writing (original). This is some of the best work of Ford's '80s heater. Available on Prime.